Action on Transit

The Ottawa Transit Riders, Free Transit Ottawa, Horizon Ottawa, and Ecology Ottawa organized a rally for better transit in Ottawa on September 26th.

There is huge frustration in this city at the disconnect between what riders want and what city officials are willing to fund.

Here is an excellent CBC interview with Matti Siemiatycki, the Director of the Infrastructure Institute at the School of Cities, University of Toronto, and Professor in the Department of Geography & Planning on the risks of a “transit death spiral”.

We’re experiencing the undeniable evidence of climate change. Good public transit is a tool to mitigate the harms of climate change. But right now, transit is in decline in Ottawa, so people are avoiding it. We will never grow ridership with more route cuts and fare increases. We can do better, we deserve better.

Last year Council cut $47M in "cost savings" from the transit budget and left a $39M hole hoping upper levels of government would pick up the slack. The post-COVID recovery has been made more difficult by decades of neglect and mismanagement.

We are asking City Council to step up and make our transit system something people actually WANT to use. That means:

AFFORDABILITY 

Make the Community and Equi Passes free for low-income riders and ODSP recipients. End costly fare enforcement and punitive fines.

Sign a petition to demand free transit for people on OW and ODSP

FREQUENCY and RELIABILITY 

We need more buses and more operators to achieve service levels that will attract new riders — and permanent dedicated lanes on major roads, including Bank, Carling, Robertson, St Laurent and Baseline, to keep routes out of traffic and on schedule.

ACCESSIBILITY 

Ensure all stops are safe and accessible. Same-day booking for Para Transpo and service past midnight.

DEMOCRACY 

Involve riders in route planning and service levels to give us a say over the service we rely on. Create agendas for public meetings that clearly indicate when delegates are likely to be called upon so they don’t wait all day for a chance to speak for 5 minutes.

COMMUNICATION and ACCOUNTABILITY 

Commit to real time updates when buses are delayed or canceled at least 20 minutes before routes are scheduled to start, and enable all routes with GPS by Q3 of 2024 so that transit apps can provide accurate information.

FUNDING 

Redirect the $50M road widening budget, scrap corporate subsidies, raise City parking rates, and increase the Uber/Lyft surcharge to $0.70 to support improved and expanded transit operations. 

 

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How did the Para Awareness Event go?

On Monday, a significant number of people who use Para Transpo came to City Hall to meet with city councillors for our first Para Awareness Event.

It was an opportunity to educate councillors, especially new ones, about the challenges and frustrations of using the service. It was an opportunity for councillors to meet face-to-face with people who use the service to hear stories. There are people who use the service in every ward in the city.

You can view the presentation here: Para Awareness 2023 presentation

Our demands are simple and reasonable – and in many cases, not expensive.

Here’s a picture of a Presto reader blocked by a step. One demand is that the new buses should have Presto readers that are accessible to people who use wheelchairs.

Shout-out to the councillors who came and talked to people.

It was disappointing that the mayor declined our invitation.

It was even more disappointing that Mme Amilcar declined to attend as she has refused to meet with transit riders at several opportunities.

Here is one accessibility advocate, Kyle Humphrey talking about his frustration at being ignored by City Hall: interview with iheartradio

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Transit Rally on Tuesday (at City Hall)

Are you frustrated at the state of transit in Ottawa?

Are you annoyed that the mayor claims that he did not understand how serious the issues are?

Join Free Transit Ottawa, Ottawa Transit Riders, Horizon Ottawa, and Ecology Ottawa for a Rally to Fix Public Transit.

We're calling on City Council to deliver transit that's accessible, affordable, reliable, and frequent.

Featuring live music and speakers from community and labour groups, including

  • Nick Grover — Free Transit Ottawa
  • Dan Rutabingwa Gakire — Ecology Ottawa
  • Rory Lewis — Ottawa Transit Riders
  • Ray Eskritt — Horizon Ottawa Board Member
  • Alex Silas, Regional VP — PSAC
  • Alex Miller — CAPE Solidarity Caucus
  • ACORN Ottawa

Marion Dewar Plaza (110 Laurier W), September 26 from 11:30 am to 2 pm.

 

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Transit is good for us

I know that I am “preaching to the converted” when I argue that urban density and high quality public transit are good for us, but here are some articles supporting this argument.

Why urban density is actually good for us | Georgia Straight Vancouver’s source for arts, culture, and events

This is an article about Vancouver, but the lessons apply to Ottawa as well. Sprawl is expensive, we would do well to advocate for greater density and mixed neighbourhoods with services and employment and housing.  

For example, Paris is far more dense than Vancouver (20,000 residents per square-kilometre, compared to Vancouver’s 5,790), thanks to multi-unit housing mixed with businesses.

Here’s another article arguing for upper levels of government to support public transit.

The case for investment in Ontario’s public transit systems (thespec.com)

This article notes that good public transit reduces smog and air pollution. People who live in communities with good transit drive about half as much as people in car-centric places.

Households save money with transit (cars are expensive to buy and maintain).

Transit reduces car accidents.

Transit provides good jobs; it also allows essential workers to get to and from work.

The case for investing in public transit is strong – the challenge is getting upper levels of government to pay for it. Politicians like ribbon-cutting – governments are often happy to invest in capital costs of building new trains, but what municipalities really need is support for the operational costs of running a transit system.

Your councillors will soon be presenting the draft budget for 2024. Take the time to communicate with them and let them know that you value public transit and want councillors to vote for a realistic budget.

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ParaTranspo event at City Hall Sept 25th

What do you know about ParaTranspo, the reservation-only bus service for Ottawa residents with a disability?

Unless you, or someone you love rides ParaTranspo, you might be surprised by some of the challenges.

Did you know that people who use ParaTranspo have to book their rides at least 24 hours in advance? That means no spontaneous drinks with friends; no taking advantage of last-minute tickets to an event …

Did you know that if you cancel a booking, you may have to justify your decision?

Did you know that there is a limit on how many rides a person can take on ParaTranspo per day? That means that if you go to a medical appointment and then to the grocery store, you might not be allowed to book a visit to a friend on the same day.

The Ottawa Transit Riders is hosting an event at City Hall on Monday, September 25th for city councillors to meet with ParaTranspo riders and learn some details about the service.

We want people to listen to riders like Ryan who writes for Ottawa Life: An Opportunity For Para Transpo Users To Be Heard

All city councillors, the mayor, and Renée Amilcar, the general manager of transit services have been invited to this presentation and roundtable discussion.

If you ride ParaTranspo and want to attend, please click on this link: ParaTranspo Awareness 2023 / événement de sensibilisation à ParaTranspo 2023. Whether you attend or not, we want to hear from you. Email [email protected] to share your story.

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Ottawa Transit Riders at Lansdowne Market Aug 6

You might like to know that members of Ottawa Transit Riders will be staffing a table at the Lansdowne Market on Sunday, August 6th.

Come by and say “Hi!”


Vous aimeriez peut-être savoir que des membres du groupe des usagers de transport en commun d'Ottawa tiendront une table au marché de Lansdowne le dimanche 6 août.

Venez nous rendre visite et dire « Bonjour ! »

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So what's the plan?

We’re all tired of the mess that is the LRT. What’s next? Social media is abuzz with people discussing the root causes and offering possible solutions.

  1. Curves too sharp?
  2. Tracks not the right size for the trains?
  3. Choice to purchase light rail when we really need a heavier, more durable subway-like train?

 

But we’re basically in this mess because non experts made decisions about transit without fully understanding what works.

The Ottawa Transit Riders proposes that the city hire an expert, unaffiliated with the previous regime, who can provide us with detailed options (and costs) so that residents of this city, who will have to pay to fix the LRT and who ride transit, can debate the options in an open forum.

Enough with the armchair quarterbacking – let’s hear from people who know what they are talking about.

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Ottawa has "idle" ParaTranspo buses ... really?

Ottawa is going to experiment with on-demand transit – a shared-ride system that allows riders to “book” a small bus using an app. It seeks to combine the convenience of taxi/Uber with the cost savings of a bus. About 20 communities across Canada have tested a form of on-demand transit since 2015.

The Ottawa Transit Riders is surprised to hear that OC Transpo is planning to use “idle” Para buses for this pilot project.

Actually, we are shocked that OC Transpo has unused Para buses since Para customers have been complaining for years about lack of capacity. The current fleet is old and in poor condition, sometimes causing cancellations and delays when they break down.

It seems impossible that an on-demand service could use Para buses without adversely affecting the service used by current customers.

Community Groups Concerned Over Proposal to Remove Para Buses for On-Demand Transit - Horizon Ottawa

Riders who use the accessible transit system describe the proposal as a “kick in the teeth” to people with disabilities who have been advocating for on-demand, same-day service for years. Why is this being rolled out now for able-bodied customers when it has been denied to customers of ParaTranspo for so long?

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Orleans Climate Resiliency Dialogue June 9th

Are you coughing from all the smoke blowing down from wildfires in Quebec?

Climate change is scary.

It’s a perfect time to discuss how Ottawa can build resilience and prepare for climate disasters.

CAFES Ottawa (Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability) and the Greater Avalon Community Association are inviting participants for a Community Dialogue on Climate Resiliency in Orleans on Friday June 9th at 6:30 PM.

For details click on the Eventbrite invitation

Toussez-vous à cause de la fumée qui s'échappe des incendies de forêt au Québec ?

Les changements climatiques sont effrayants.

C'est le moment idéal pour discuter de la façon dont Ottawa peut renforcer sa résilience et se préparer aux catastrophes climatiques.

CAFES Ottawa (Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability) et l’Association communautaire du Grand Avalon invitent les participants à un dialogue communautaire sur la résilience climatique à Orléans, le vendredi 9 juin à 18 h 30.

Pour plus de détails, cliquez sur l'invitation Eventbrite

 

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ParaTranspo challenges at Carleton University

The list of frustrations that people who use ParaTranspo deal with is long.

But here is a small problem that can and should be fixed.

When people are booking rides to Carleton University, they are asked to specify which BUILDING they are going to from a drop-down menu. Seems simple enough … but, the drop down menu for dispatch indicates STOP NUMBERS.

This means that mistakes are common.

On Saturday, June 3rd, Carleton University hosted the Ottawa Inclusive & Para Sports Expo as part of National AccessAbility Week (NAAW). This event is one of the largest inclusive sporting expos in Ottawa, and an event which would naturally draw a large number of ParaTranspo users. 

A number of people struggled to find their bus stop; a number of drivers ended up at the wrong bus stop. Drivers had to return to find their customers. Resources were wasted. People were left stranded on a hot summer’s day. 

The lack of coordination and accommodation by OC Transpo has once again relegated ParaTranspo users as an afterthought when it comes to public transit in Ottawa. More egregiously, it comes during a week when the City of Ottawa was promoting National AccessAbility Week. 

We ask the Transit Commission to urge OC Transpo to work with program developers to ensure that the menu for ParaTranspo customers matches the menus used by the dispatch system.

This is Ottawa - the capital city of a G7 nation in 2023 - surely we can get something so simple right.

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